Posted by permission of the author, Dr. Roger Lawson
"At the recent G8 summit world leaders again recognized the plight of farmers in the developing world and their inability to produce enough food to satisfy the needs of the more than one billion people who face starvation. Leaders of these rich countries pledged an additional $ 5 billion in aid over the next three years to supply the seeds, fertilizers, tools and other aid to small farmers in developing countries. The U.S is expected to commit an additional $ 3 billion.
What is missing from this food security equation is the answer to the future productivity of U.S agriculture in the rapidly changing global environment. Increased global warming with changing weather patterns are resulting in more severe droughts and floods and increased concentrations of carbon dioxide associated with burning fossil fuels. These changes are already having a profound effect on crop production and food security here at home.
The Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (ARS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, Maryland has been solving agricultural production problems for nearly 100 years. Once regarded as the flagship of ARS, the scientific staff today numbers 253 compared to more than 400 in the 1960’s. Maintaining a stable and productive U.S. food supply will require a new emphasis on research. Seeds and fertilizer, as will be supplied to the developing countries, will not solve the problems of providing a plentiful and nutritious food supply to U.S consumers.
Beltsville has developed a Center of Excellence on Climate Change where a diverse range of research that includes effects of climate change on crop yield and the development of new more climate-tolerant crops; development of more sustainable practices with reduced use of polluting nitrogen and other synthetic fertilizers; discovering the effects of climate change on reduced levels of vitamin E and other essential components in food and developing new technologies using satellite imaging to predict crop yields in a changing environment.
The challenge of food security must be addressed by Congress without further delay. If the U.S is to prepare for the current climate changes and the predicted increase in population of 130 million by 2042 that will require 30-40% more food, we must act now.
I urge all Marylanders to contact their State and U.S Senators and Representatives and Delegates and urge increased funding for the Center of Excellence."
Roger Lawson Ph 410 531-0075
10613 Steamboat Landing firstname.lastname@example.org
Columbia, MD 21044